Park Music Scene Expands With Parris Underground


A new music venue catering to all ages and genres opened in Severna Park this spring. Parris Underground, located on Ritchie Highway behind Donut Shack and Pitaya, welcomed its first acts on March 23.

Owner Laura MacKay, a Severna Park High School graduate who also owns neighboring business Magnolia Wellness, remembers fondly the experiences she had in her teenage years attending concerts with friends, particularly at the Manhattan Beach Clubhouse. She hopes to foster the same kind of environment in this new venture, she said.

An important tenet of Parris Underground is that it is alcohol-free – an effort to give both minors and sober adults a safe space to perform, gather and enjoy music.

“Sometimes, as a sober person, it’s intimidating to go somewhere where you know you’re going to be around a ton of loud, drunk people,” MacKay explained. “What we wanted to do here was have it really be about the music.”

Parris Underground is a family affair for MacKay and her husband, Travis Guare, a bass player with a background in sound engineering. Her 9-year-old daughter has even assisted with stamping guests’ hands at the door – a testament to the all-ages policy.

MacKay recalls the small venues where some of her musician friends launched their professional careers, and she hopes to provide that opportunity to today’s young local musicians.

Some of those young musicians are Cammeron Blackburn, Keith Ivey and Nicholas Stohler, who perform as the band Ivy League. After performing at Parris Underground in March, they called the venue a “dream come true” for musicians and fans who want to witness the Severna Park music scene thriving.

The typical format of a night at Parris Underground will be an acoustic opener followed by two full bands. MacKay, who describes her favorite genre as gypsy punk, wants to create an environment where people of all ages can come together and enjoy a variety of music, all in one night, that bridges the decades.

“It’s been really interesting to see the generations come together too, and people learning new music that they maybe never would have heard of or never been exposed to, and I think that’s what we aim to do with every show … have that span of generations,” MacKay said.

Having lost friends to suicide, MacKay strongly believes in the power of both music and community, and she wants her venue to serve as a safe haven for anyone to come clear their mind and improve their mental health.

“I’m hoping that we can be that place where people are like, ‘OK, well I’m not having a good day, but let me go hear some music,’” MacKay said.

The name Parris Underground is a nod to Jeni Parris Brady, a friend of MacKay’s who was a local music scene aficionado and died from a rare form of cancer in 2019. MacKay described her as a “bright light” in the music world, and her name combined with the venue’s physical location were a perfect match.

MacKay hopes to eventually broaden the entertainment offerings beyond music and host comedians, poetry reading and board game competitions.

At the newly built bar, patrons can purchase soft drinks such as water, seltzer, sodas and “Botanically M’ades” – homemade lemon and limeades mixed with locally sourced, low-sugar fruit syrups.

Beginning the first weekend in May, Parris Underground will have live music on Friday and Saturday nights from 7:00pm-10:30pm, and open mic every Sunday. There is a $10 cover charge on Fridays and Saturdays, and open mics are free on Sundays. Musicians interested in performing can email


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